SJB Architects add to the face of St. Kilda’s street life with this exciting project.
July 23rd, 2009
So much of Melbourne’s architecture seems to engage in a cultural conversation with its people, history and surroundings. In the heart of St. Kilda, SJB Architects 30 The Esplanade project had some interesting neighbours to get to know.
Slotted into an irregular site between traditional terrace houses and a McDonalds restaurant, it is the adjacent iconic Luna Park and Palais Theatre to which the architects needed to answer.
Two distinct forms of the new building respond to the existing elements, with a rectangular section offering a traditional response to the terraces and curvilinear ‘ribbons’ of glass stretching across the eastern boundary.
“The prominent location of the site provided an opportunity for a sculptural expression which allows the built form to manifest its own personality within St. Kilda,” says SJB’s Michael Bialek.
The striking glass façade – a collaboration with DigiGlass Australasia and Pixels Per Inch – actually employs a super-imposed graphic, built into the double-glazed window units, with the semi-transparent image placed between each layer to ensure it does not fade over time.
“The image references several characteristics inherent to St Kilda’s cultural fabric; the fishnet stockings simultaneously speaks of sex, the seaside and the politics of the promenade,” Bialek explains.
This building is, without doubt, making a strong contemporary statement – but the site called for something to balance the adjacent historical elements.
“St. Kilda has a rich and varied history. From the artists in residence and the European immigrant community that settled in the 50’s, to the strong tourist numbers that visit the area throughout the year,” Bialek says.
“The street life has given St. Kilda its reputation as a hive of diversity and it is these characteristics that SJB wanted to celebrate.”
Hero Image: Gerard Warrener
Images 2, 3 and 4 below: Jaime Diaz Berrio
Images 6 – 10: Tony Miller
Photograph: Tony Miller
Photograph: Tony Miller
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